An Accord Between the Government of Canada and the Voluntary Sector
THE PROCESS LEADING TO AN ACCORD
In 1995, twelve national umbrella organizations covering most parts of the voluntary sector came
together as the Voluntary Sector Roundtable (VSR) to strengthen the voice of the sector. Its goals
were to enhance the relationship between the sector and the Government of Canada, to strengthen
the sector's capacity and to improve the legal and regulatory framework governing the sector.
In 1999, the VSR released the final report of an independent panel
of inquiry it commissioned in 1997 to study issues of accountability and governance in the voluntary
sector. Known as the "Broadbent Panel", the report it prepared was called Building on Strength:
Improving Governance and Accountability in Canada's Voluntary Sector. This report contained
41 recommendations for the voluntary sector and for governments that would strengthen the sector's
ability to function effectively.
During this same period, the Government of Canada was also looking
at its relationship with the voluntary sector. The Government recognized the need for a strong
and vital voluntary sector if it was to meet its goal of improved quality of life for Canadians.
Following the release of the Broadbent Panel report, voluntary sector
members and federal officials met in three groups, called "joint tables", to make recommendations
on sector/government relationships, to strengthen the voluntary sector's capacity, and to improve
regulations and legislation. They tabled a report in August 1999 called Working Together, containing
26 recommendations for action.
The 1999 Speech from the Throne reinforced the Government's commitment
to build its relationship with the voluntary sector. This was followed in June 2000, with the
Government of Canada's announcement of funding for the Voluntary Sector Initiative, which included
the development of an Accord.
The Joint Accord Table was established with a mandate to develop an
Accord, consult widely on it, and then develop and consult on measures required to put it into
practice. The draft Accord was developed and broad consultations on its content and approach
took place across Canada during the summer and fall of 2001. People from a wide range of voluntary
sector organizations, and others with an interest in the sector, offered their views and advice
on the proposed Accord and what it could mean for their organizations and their communities.
Federal departments and agencies of the Government of Canada were also consulted. Labour unions,
business entities, Aboriginal organizations, groups representing visible minorities, academic
institutions and policy and research think tanks were also invited to provide their views. Many
individuals also sent their comments.
The idea of an Accord was well received and there was broad consensus
on the values and principles presented in the Accord. It is on the basis of this broad involvement
and support that this Accord is recommended to the voluntary sector and the Government of Canada.